Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. still eyes the passage of the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill.
The measure was not among the Senate and the House of Representatives’ legislative priorities, which include the proposed P3.002-trillion budget bill or General Appropriations Act (GAA) and the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).
“Given the chance, we will pass this [FOI] bill. Pero nagtatantsahan pa rin kami doon dahil [But we are still figuring each other out on it because] there are some groups that are hesitant about it,” Belmonte told dzBB radio on Sunday morning.
The measure, which has long been pending in Congress, aims to enable citizens access to government information and mandates government agencies and officials to disclose all information on official acts, transactions or decisions.
In his remarks during the opening of the third and last regular session of the 16th Congress in the morning before President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) last July 27, Belmonte said he hoped and trusts that this Congress will pass several priority measures before its term ends including the FOI.
Aquino’s SONA, which was his last one before he steps down next year, made no mention of the proposed measure.
Rep. Sherwin Tugna of Citizens’ Battle Against Corruption (Cibac) party-list said he believes the “push” is not as strong as the anti-dynasty bill, when asked at the time if he was still positive that FOI will be passed even without the President’s explicit endorsement in his SONA.
Aquino said in his speech that it was time for an anti-political dynasty law.
But Belmonte on Sunday said it should be the next Congress that will pass the anti-dynasty bill to prevent a half-baked measure. It reached plenary last May.
“[If it will just be a showpiece, I do not want that because the continuing rebuke is on us for not having done what the Constitution wants. We made something but it is toothless],” he told dzBB.
Belmonte said he will still push for passage of the so-called economic Charter change (Cha-cha).
“I’m taking a chance or I will be taking a chance,” he said.